Learn to surf in Los Angeles

Surfer riding a wave in Santa Monica
Surfer riding a wave in Santa Monica

Southern California conjures up images of sunny days, bikinis and surfing. And these cliches aren't just cliches -- they're true. The beach lifestyle is very much alive here. So, when visiting Los Angeles, how about learning to surf?

Malibu is a surfer's mecca, but not the easiest place to learn. The regulars aren't necessarily welcoming toward beginners, so it's best to perfect your skills elsewhere, before paddling out at Third Point. Here's are some things to know when learning to surf in Santa Monica, Venice Beach and Manhattan Beach, all perfect spot for beginners.

The Pacific Ocean is cold, but warmer in the summer, at an average of 64F. You will need a wetsuit year round, but a spring suit is fine during summer. Most surf schools provide wetsuits. It's easier to learn on a long board, at least 8 feet in length, and most schools will teach you on a lightweight long foam board.

Get into shape by working your upper body before taking lessons. Yoga is ideal, but push ups at home, or lifting weights at the gym will make paddling in the ocean easier. Swimming is ideal training, as it makes you comfortable moving in the water and increases stamina. Any exercise that strengthens stamina is great training for your upcoming surf sessions.

There are surf schools up and down the coast, but you'll want to book in advance. Easier breaks are found at Navy Street and Bay Street in Santa Monica, which is where most surf schools are based. And DO NOT attempt to teach yourself to surf -- it really is important to take a couple classes. You might not stand up on your board during your first lesson, but you'll have fun trying.

Here are a list of schools to check out before your next trip to Los Angeles:

http://learntosurfla.com/html/index.htm

http://aquasurfschool.com/

http://malibulongboards.com/

http://oceanasurf.com/

--Lesley Bracker

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